The front page of the Daily News in New York on Friday Oct 2nd was an early morning surprise for me, when I discovered that my old pal David Letterman was yet again the target of some plot I couldn’t help thinking of the culture of attack we live in as I covered in my post Phelps, Pot and Precognition a few months ago. I call Dave my old pal because from 1981 to 1989 I was self employed and watched his show every night while I worked, obviously I don’t know him personally and regrettably stopped watching his show when I started working for the “man” and could no longer stay up late. Yet although I could have recorded it and watched it the next day…I didn’t, I tried a few times now that I think back to those days but watching it at five o”clock didn’t work…something for me was lost.
I know I missed many good shows since then and always thought he was screwed by the execs at NBC when they picked Jay Leno to take the helm of the Tonight Show over Dave. But what has been revealed and continues to come out in the media has really been a study in media frenzy and what I will call the “Days of the Long Knives” for David and his family and I’m starting to think maybe it’s got nothing to do with monetary gain but rather a personal vendetta against Late Show with David Letterman as a TV entity as well as it’s namesake.
The alleged blackmailer Robert J.”Joe” Halderman is the producer of the acclaimed CBS 48 Hours Mystery, an in depth reporting program that has seen Halderman nominated for Emmy Awards for his pieces about Sarajevo and Russia’s brutality against their own people, he has also worked in war zones such as Somalia and Bosnia. Halderman was considered ” hard driving” but also refered to as a “swashbuckler” described as brave and capable of doing any story he was given. But in his off hours he was called a “party animal” who was a barrel of laughs, a spendthrift who enjoyed the night life.
But MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann remembers a different man that he worked with at CNN in the 1980’s, on his blog Olbermann wrote that whenever somebody gets arrested for some stupid or horrible crime people always say “That’s not the guy I knew?” Well not this time, as Olbermann reveals “This is exactly the guy we knew at CNN.” He also stated that Halderman thought he was better than everyone else and that there was no weeping when he left CBS.
The young woman at the center of this scandal is Stephanie Birkitt, a Wake Forest University graduate who actually interned at CBS in 1996, where she would have likely met or at least become known to both Letterman and Halderman before graduating in 1997. It was shortly after this that she started working on 48 Hours where I suspect Joe Halderman was first attracted to the pretty young girl who now was legal age, but after a short time Birkitt moved over to Late Show to get away from the serious news business and worked as a producer on the Late Show. Later when the job of personal assistant to Letterman opened up Birkitt applied for and got the job to be in Dave’s inner circle where she was quite happy calling Dave the “best boss I ever had” in a 2002 interview. Then in an 2003 interview at her old school she described the working environment as fun and Dave as kind, personable and generous and was “great fun to play catch with,” (you play catch and get paid for it!).
But also Late Show is known as a serious work environment where 15 hour days are the norm and the female staffers were happy with the workplace environment according to former employees. This I think is the beginning of the love triangle that will develop into this last act of revenge that pushes Halderman to try and settle the score with Dave for getting the girl he wanted an affair with while he was still married!
The fact is that people who work together long hours usually wind up playing together too, and in this sort of environment (bars/party’s) it’s easy for people to hook up and have affairs. I mean years ago I knew a group of people who worked together at the Sears Auto Center when I was a delivery driver for an auto parts store. One day I noticed that this little short mechanic was kissing a beautiful tall European looking blonde who worked in the office up front! They were totally mismatched and looked odd together so I asked him about it and he told me…”we had our Christmas party at the bar down the block a few weeks ago, at the end of the night we were the last two people left at the bar…and it just happened.” I don’t know what became of that hookup but all kinds of weird matches are made every day. You also have to remember that Dave who has always been very self deprecating, calling himself a geeky guy and has been very reserved almost shy in a way. I’m guessing he was probably not much of a lady’s man in his younger days. I think that if you look at the types of people Dave has had in his life they could easily be described as plain jane’s who are interested in writing and are professionals, you don’t find people who look like Duffy on his staff. The fact that no sexual harassment charges have ever been brought against Dave and that one former staffer said Dave’s definitely not a “groper” kind of leads me to believe that this was a case of total infatuation. Birkitt, a young attractive girl, who by all accounts liked Dave’s offbeat sense of humor, and for Dave it was the equivalent of the cheerleader he never had.
This of course doesn’t excuse his cheating on his long time girlfriend Regina Lasko, but 23 years is a long time to date someone and I can’t help feeling like they were together for convenience and sex rather than love. The fact is that Regina was a former staffer at Late Night and should have known Dave for the lady’s man he is now being portrayed to be by the media, therefore I find it confusing that Lasko is surprised or mad at this revelation which she should have expected.
This is where the really tough moral questions come in to play, as we have seen men have a built in instinct to mate with many females that was hard wired into our brains to expand the population. Men have been trying to overcome that instinct for the past 30 years at least on paper. But culturally speaking, many of us do a pretty good job of it most of the time. I personally have never cheated on a girlfriend I was with, but that didn’t stop me from looking at other girls and desiring them as well. Don’t roll your eyes girls, I’m being honest here so you can understand- it’s not personal.
I was madly in love with my ex fiance at one time yet still found myself checking out other girls in stores or malls while we walked together. It’s something that men do on an almost subliminal level, the difference being there are those who act on those desires and those that don’t. I mean indeed I once knew a woman (not my lover) who actually bought her husband a subscription to Penthouse so he had the stimulation at home to enjoy. Yet judging by her smile at my shock, it worked for them and for her too as she alluded to the benefits of a stimulated man!
But the most shocking thing to me was when a young former co-worker; a latino male of about 18 (who was not good looking by any means) who had girls sending him text messages and cheesecake pictures requesting “stress relief,” informed me that it was common to have many girlfriends but there was only one “wifey.” The girl who was wifey was your favorite, the one you cared about the most and the girl your friends were not allowed to look at with desire or talk smack about at all. This was the girl you took to family parties or holiday occasions, this was astounding to me and was an accepted form of behavior by college age people. It was also possible for girls to have the same arrangement with other guys! This was a don’t ask don’t tell arrangement, and all this information was backed up by other young people related to me that I questioned about this social practice. The attitude was if infidelity is going to happen anyway why get mad… just have open relationships and no one gets hurt.
The relationship between Letterman and Birkitt seems to have ended around the time when Dave and Regina found out they were going to be parents, and Birkitt went back to Halderman sometime after the breakup and eventually moved in with him. She paid him a whopping $1500 a month to help the now divorced 51-year-old who was paying out $6800 in child support and was also deep in debt but still trying to keep his golfing /partying life style intact. So we now can see the intention of Birkitt all along was to get with an older man and try to advance her career, she went with Dave after leaving the staff of 48 hours to have fun and got some face time on TV, because as fans of the Late Show know well…Dave likes to use his staff in bits and sketches, members of the band, stage manager Biff Henderson, even going so far as to bring out a petrified female staffer who was getting married to do several bits so she could get paid for being on TV (on top of her regular salary) as a wedding present! Dave sent Birkitt to cover the 2002 and 2006 Olypics and had her do silly bits on the show from time to time so by all accounts Miss Birkitt had a swell time and was paid a very good salary too, even after the breakup Birkitt was still employed by Letterman and is now on paid leave from the show.
But it was during the time that Birkitt was living with Halderman,about 2005 to late Sept 2009 that Halderman allegedly read Stephanie Birkitt’s diary and love letters to Dave that she had saved. This then was the package that was presented to Letterman in early September with the request for 2 million dollars. There is also a rumor that Halderman had David Letterman’s office bugged or video taped in some way but only the FBI knows for sure and they …are not talking.
So right now we still don’t know the real truth about all this, did Halderman snap when he found out that his ex-wife was taking the kids out-of-state to live? Maybe it was the fact that Birkitt was not happy with Halderman for refusing to have children with her and was getting tired of waiting and threatening to leave? How could he think that a man like Letterman (who was driving Birkitt home to Halderman’s house after work at night, even though they were split up) would just lay down and die and submit to extortion?
The media’s frenzy that is going on is amazing, panels are discussing the ethics of the workplace with psychiatrists and psychologists and all sorts of experts talking about how we have to re-examine our work policy regarding office romance, militant feminists are calling for Dave to be drawn and quartered and his show to be cancelled and former Gotti attorney Gerald Shargel is waiting with bated breath to cross-examine Letterman if the case goes to trial, which I’m betting won’t even go that far. The case will be settled out of court and what Dave’s legal team will do… is make this go away as fast as possible.
The strange thing is that Dave is getting very high ratings for all this embarrassment and discomfort, with Jay Leno moved to 10:00 o’clock time slot and Conan O’Brian in Jay’s still warm seat I expected a surge in Late Show ratings but not for this reason! I know what Dave did was wrong and I feel it may cost him his marriage in the long run and that is a shame but if I was Regina I would stay with Dave, have a fling of my own to get even, and try to forget it ever happened.
The 20 million dollar ranch that Dave owns out west and the house on the water in the tropics could make me forgetful easily, as well as the weekly allowance that she probably already gets could be doubled as well. Then what about poor Stephanie Birkitt?
Well, if she had any real feelings for either man, it can only be speculated on, I’m sure she knew about Dave’s girlfriend when she hooked up with Dave. The love letters that were used by Halderman were never sent? If not why? These facts are ignored by feminists who don’t want to admit it but Birkitt was 22 when she started working for Dave, hardly a stupid kid but a college grad, with a taste for older men in positions of power in the industry. If she isn’t looking for a sugar daddy then why not hook up with someone in their late 30’s, instead of a 51 year old Halderman? Then also if she really loved Dave then why not insist that he split with Regina Lasko and marry her instead? She will probably do the talk show circuit and write a tell all book in a few years, unless her silence is bought out by both men and then she will have a house in the tropics too.
Halderman who has lost his job with CBS is the loser in all this, he doesn’t have a chance now of coming off all this clean, he has lost all his credibility, he might just as well skip town and try his luck as a beach comber in the tropics. If he does Birkitt and Letterman will need orders of protection! LOL…not funny though, that’s why I’m not Dave I guess.
David Letterman was about 50 when he hired Birkitt who was 22, Birkitt was 34 when she left Halderman who is 51. I am 47 going on 27, why-because I work at every day. I think young act young I try to be younger than I am because I believe it preserves youth and keeps you from aging. In the unlikely event that some girl in her twenties was interested in me I would be ecstatic, not because I “bagged” a young girl at my age but because I’m alone, and loneliness is everything it’s cracked up to be. But I would not accept the advances of that twenty something girl while I had a forty something waiting for me at home, I just don’t roll that way. But I don’t know for sure because it’s never happened to me. You just don’t know what your capable of untill you do it, whether it’s good or bad. You never know just how you look through other peoples eyes either.
So Dave you screwed up buddy…from one geeky guy to another-you screwed up. Best wishes for all involved.
Ps: The information used in this article is in the public domain and was memorized from numerous radio shows, TV news briefs, and talk show conversation, online sources and speculation on my part. It is not intended to be taken as gospel truth but as a conglomerate of all the available information on the subject. I have no intention of hurting anyone and will apologize up front to anyone I offended in the creation of this piece. GH